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Moral Dilemmas

Lindsay Clandfield

Smashwords (2016)

ISBN: 978-1-31-090285-7

4,530 words, pdf/epub/mobi/pdb

How important is it to keep a promise? When is killing someone an act of self-defence? Is it right to torture a terrorist when the lives of many are at stake? Does it matter where money comes from if it ultimately does good?

If these questions make you stop to think, you have just met one of Moral Dilemmas' objectives of  fostering critical-thinking skills. According to author Lindsay Clandfield, your students can profit from working with Moral Dilemmas as its activities contribute to their personal moral education and offer meaningful language practises. However, all of these benefits apply to work with moral dilemmas in general – examples of which can be found easily online for free – so why should we buy Clandfield’s mini e-book?

Well, first things first. Lindsay Clandfield is a well-known conference speaker, teacher trainer, and ELT writer living in Spain. He might be known to you as the author of Macmillan’s six-level course, Global. He wrote Moral Dilemmas for use in small group discussions with students who are at an intermediate (B1) or higher level of English.

The book’s introduction offers some advice on how to deal with the commonly-encountered problems when using dilemmas, such as their potential remoteness from students’ lives or managing controversy. Each of the 15 dilemmas is divided up into four parts: a description of the dilemma and the question it raises; teaching tips that include variations of the dilemma to make it more suitable for your learners; a digging deeper section that deals with issues further raised by the dilemma and provides background information to well-known ones; and a vocabulary round-up that lists useful lexis.   

These didactic annotations set Clandfield’s book apart from a mere collection of dilemmas available online. Having the book’s extended versions of dilemmas at hand increases your chances of finding a tricky situation that will engage your students. Clandfield’s teaching suggestions help to liven up dead-end discussions and can also draw students’ attention, for example, to gender issues.      

A negative comment could be made about the vocabulary lists that are rather on the short side. However, as the book’s main focus is oral production, this is not a major flaw and something every teacher can easily add on to. To do the vocabulary lists justice, it should be mentioned that rather than just citing lexis from the dilemmas, Clandfield provides further expressions and groups them into semantic or grammatical categories, thus helping to embed the dilemmas in its broader context.

As Clandfield remarks in his introduction, discussing moral dilemmas is not everyone’s cup of tea, and when overdone may lose its appeal. As usual, asking for students' feedback is advisable. The dilemmas I used with a group of five intermediate students between the ages of 16 to 17-years old generated fruitful debates. They felt the questions were a welcome change to the speaking activities found in their course book.   

Priced at only $0.99, Moral Dilemmas is definitely a good-value buy. It is available as an e-book on www.smashwords.com In order to access the book, you will first have to register with Smashwords and provide a password and an email address. After you have entered your credit card details and have received confirmation of your purchase, you can download the book in four different formats: as as epub file (which requires the free app Adobe Digital Editions for PCs and laptops, or iBooks for Apple devices), mobi (for Kindle), pdf, or pdb. If you intend to print the book, it is best to download the pdf file. You may download the book in more than one format as it is saved in your virtual Smashwords library, or you may also read it online.

If you plan only to read Moral Dilemmas on your Kindle, I would suggest to purchase it directly from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk This method appears to be less complicated than the steps described by Smashwords and is available at almost the same price.

Moral Dilemmas was published by the round www.the-round.com and is part of the round minis series for ELT. Its price reflects the series's objective: small books with small prices but big value. Why not visit the round’s website where you find another book by Lindsay Clandfield, as well as books by Scott Thornbury, Paul Walsh, and Rachael Harris?  

Dominique Basler